GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — A site adjacent to Fairbanks Women’s Prison will be the home of the proposed Cayman Islands youth offenders facility.
The site is currently home to the last remaining trailers in George Town, housing people displaced by Hurricane Ivan. However, the government is refurbishing the Lyndhurst Apartments, where it says the trailer residents will be moved to make way for the new juvenile facility. Although mandated in the new constitution, Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam said there was a pressing need for the unit.
Adam announced the plans for the facility at a public meeting recently, explaining that the facility was necessary because Cayman’s rapid economic development has weakened societal structures that have long supported youth
“It is hardly surprising that we now see increasing evidence of gang activity, unemployment and crime,” he said. “We must acknowledge that we are not providing the best possible therapeutic interventions and facilities necessary to turn these children around into civic-minded, responsible, productive citizens.”
The current situation, in which juvenile offenders serve their time at Eagle House or Fairbanks Prison with adult prisoners, violates internationally recognized human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Adam said.
To comply with the Cayman Islands Constitution, juvenile inmates must be segregated from adult prisoners by November 2013. Construction of the new facility will begin by September and is expected to be complete by December 2012.
In the meantime, the ministry will introduce an interim, short-term program at the Bonaventure Boys Home that will accommodate 20 boys, Adam said. The program is scheduled to begin in September.
Sean Evans, executive architect at the Public Works Department, was the lead designer of the facility, which will mimic a residence rather than a prison.
Although the entrance will look residential, several security features will be put in place. The secure entry area for visitors will have metal detectors and will be monitored.
Running along the back perimeter, but not visible from the front, will be a curved chain link fence, comprising very small holes that prevent finger and toe holds, making it almost impossible to scale. There will be surveillance cameras on all the fence posts as well as on the edge of the building, as well as motion detectors.
The facility will start out with two medium-to-low-security cottages, each housing 10 youths, with space to build two more cottages, if necessary. Newcomers will first be placed in a higher-security section, then moved into the lower-security cottages after they acclimate to the environment.
The center will be built to hurricane-shelter standards because none of the youths will be allowed to leave in the event of a hurricane.
Mark Steward, director of the Missouri Youth Services Institute in Jefferson City, Mo. and designer of the Missouri Model, is advising the Cayman Islands government on establishing the rehabilitation method in the territory.
“(The Missouri Model) is a culture and practice built upon safety, empathy and structure where the ultimate aim is to focus on building healthy relationships, self-awareness and insight, skill development, resolution of core issues and behavioral change,” said Adam.
“It is not a soft approach as some may think. It is, in fact, a more demanding approach as one must face and deal with their most intimate, difficult and traumatic core issues and be held accountable for one’s actions and behavior,” he said.
The model will be adapted to suit Cayman, Adam said.
“There will be adjustments," he said. "They have identified some already and they’re rewriting some of the program, to customize it more to Cayman. The program is still being developed for Cayman. Largely it is going to be patterned on the Missouri Model, but there will be some localizing adjustments in the program here.”